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tv   This Week in Northern California  PBS  July 24, 2010 1:00am-1:30am PST

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closed captioning of this program is made possible by the fireman's fund foundation. >> belva: this week cash-strapped oakland clears the way for large-scale medicinal marijuana cultivation to help generate revenue. the results of new california polls find that the role of the ethnic voter in the upcoming elections. should the funders of political ads be named if the ads stop short of telling you how to vote? also, pumping new life back into the once mighty san joaquin river. the once mighty san joaquin river. coming up next. captioning by vitac, underwritten by fireman's fund ♪
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♪ >> belva: good evening. i'm belva davis, and welcome to "this week in northern california." joining me on our news panel, marisa lagos, reporter for the "san francisco chronicle," on disclosing funding for political ads. sandip roy, editor for new america media, on recent field polls and the ethnic vote. and starting with michael montgomery, reporter with the california watch. michael montgomery, tell me, there's prop 19 out there, but in oakland something different happened this week. >> that's right. oakland maybe is moving ahead of the pack on this, which is to permit, issue licenses for four large, very large industrial medical marijuana grow
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facilities. and the city council this week, you know, made their first big step towards that permitting process. i think what attracted a lot of attention was the size of some of these. we're talking about 100,000 square feet in some cases. that collectively may be enough marijuana if these actually start operating to supply about a quarter of the state's medical marijuana use. so it's big. it's also big tax revenue. that's one of the motivations for the city in this, is that obviously they need the money. pot is being grown, whether it's medical or not, in the city, and i think the council's decided it's time to bring a little bit of order to it. there's a public safety issue. and get some tax revenue and do it before other cities do it and other cities that might attract growers out of oakland. >> isn't there a public safety issue not just in, you know, the crime that might go along with anything on the black market but also the fact that we're selling something as medicine in this state that has no regulation?
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i mean, i find that interesting. is that part of the conversation? that it could be safer, they could make it, i don't know, organic or -- >> that is. they haven't worked out all the fine details of this. that is certainly an issue that was raised with the city council this week, which is toxins in the marijuana. there's also just other issues, other toxins, metals and also there's the public safety issue of fires and what have you. but the question is they're talking about required testing that some of the marijuana would have to go through if it is certified by the city. that's new territory. i mean, that has not been done in many places. so how that's going to be worked out, we're going to have to wait and see. >> mike, is anybody at all talking about kind of the irony of the fact that they might be hiring -- oakland laid off all these police officers, and they might be hiring back police officers with pot tax money, police officers sponsored by --
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in the end who is going to be the arbiter of deciding whether it's all going to be legal or not? >> actually, one of these businessmen who wants to put in for one of these permits, he's actually said that he would hire his security, the ranks of his security would be ex-oakland police officers. so there's all sorts of benefits, i suppose. who's going to decide whether this is legal or not is of course the big question. oakland city council members have said very clearly that this does comply with state medical marijuana laws. the federal government might have a different opinion on that. we talked to a lot of federal officials this week. they didn't want to go on the record. i think they're going to take a wait and see approach and see if it plays out. >> and we'd better clear it up. this has nothing to do right now with proposition 19. >> that's right. this is still based on the state's medical marijuana laws. however, if proposition 19 passes, which would legalize personal use of marijuana, and
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it would empower local cities, cities and municipalities, to legalize sales and production, oakland's going to be ahead of the game. they have said very clearly that this ordinance could be -- sort of evolve into something more expansive if proposition 19 passes. so oakland is ready. and if they can clear a couple more hurdles, these operations could be up and running by early next year. >> are they basing -- is this model based on something? are places like the netherlands doing anything like this? >> you know, i talked to some academics like at the rand corporation who've looked into this. there is some large-scale marijuana production, licensed marijuana production done in the world. most of it's outdoor. most of it is done for governments. as far as these researchers have found, there's nothing like this in the world in terms of indoor industrial facilities. >> what's happening in oakland? last week a vote to really hold the barriers on their negotiations with the police department, and this week they're going to become the pot
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capital of the world. is there new leadership brewing over there, or is there just no opposition to these? >> well, you know, it was interesting listening to the debate this week. there was very little opposition to the question of whether or not to legalize medical pot growing or regulate it. the fight was over the tax rate, frankly. it was really about taxes. but i think city officials would say look, this is going on now, it's a prudent thing to do to bring it under some kind of control. it's what they did with the dispensaries some years ago when they were sort of out of control. so there is a logical argument to be made that it's in the interest of pretty much everyone in oakland to try to regulate this and bring some order to it. >> and it's not the first time -- i mean, san francisco -- it never went anywhere, but did have a supervisor a year or two back present an ordinance that would let the city grow its own pot so that they could kind of get in on the business and talk about the safety issues and all that. but we haven't even seen that
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crazy san francisco. >> belva: so we have agreement in oakland to move ahead in the pot world. we can't seem to come to any agreement about what to do about immigration. the field poll came out giving the emphasis on how minorities feel about the arizona law and -- >> yeah, belva, the field poll -- you know, they do these polls every few months, sort of getting the temperature of california voters. and this was a multilingual field poll that was conducted on a huge number of issues including all the big races, the propositions, as well as what voters feel on various hot-button issues. and it was interesting that illegal immigration, or what's going on in arizona right now was actually what voters were asked on, even though that's not on the ballot in california. and if you look at the numbers, you'll see california is passionately split on the issue. about 48%, 49% approve of what's going on in california. about 45% disapprove. >> in arizona, you mean. >> of what's going on in arizona. but if you unpack the numbers a little more, it gets much more
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interesting. because then you see that almost every single ethnic group actually kind of by a slight majority approves of what's going on in arizona. so non-hispanic whites, about 58% approve. african-americans, 53%. asian-americans 50%. what's making it seem split that evenly is because the latinos overwhelmingly, 71%, disapprove of it. and of that 71% about 63%, 64% strongly disapprove. so in a way you could say this is an example of the power of the ethnic vote because the latino vote is actually skewing the california numbers in a certain direction. but mark decamilo, who's the director of the field polls, he was telling me that it also means that in a couple of years we might see an arizona-like immigration measure on the california ballot, and that is probably going to prove very polarizing and divisive. and at the same time they've also found that people's views on immigration are changing in
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the state. the polls indicate this on arizona, but if you -- the field poll has been querying people about illegal immigration since '82. and back in '82 they found i think about 38% of people here felt that people who were here illegally were doing jobs other californians didn't want to do. that number has actually risen now to 58%. so it's a much more complicated -- there's no black-and-white answer here. it's a much more sort of nuanced thing. >> belva: was there anything, any question asked about the economic levels of the minority groups that were being polled? >> there are demographic -- you know, they do have the demographic breakdown in terms of all of the status, where they come from. and there's definitely a factor that the economy probably plays a factor in how people perceive immigration right now in bad economic times, especially since minority groups are probably the ones who've been most impacted by the recession, there's greater unease around immigration and jobs and things like that. >> was there any indication of
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how this could have a practical effect in california in terms of -- i mean, usually the field polls are looking at likely voters, correct? is there anything that -- the worst thing coming forward that could actually make a difference in our lives. >> ethnic voters are going to make a huge difference in the upcoming november elections. what i spoke about when i came on here before, belva, is the thing that makes california a blue state are the brown voters, and i'm not talking about the jerry brown voters. it's the ethnic voters here. but those numbers are narrowing. but it is. non-hispanic whites are actually supporting meg whitman and carly fiorina at the top of the ticket, but it's the ethnic voters that are making the race kind of competitive right now. on the flip side, for example, on prop 19, michael, non-hispanic whites actually support legalizing marijuana by about 52%, 53%. but it is -- but if people who
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are pushing for legalization are listening, they'd better really work on latinos, asians, and blacks because in some of those communities the disapproval of prop 19 is around the 60% range. so they could tip the balance. and right now it's kind of 48%, 43%, but they could make all the difference in november. >> any other election issues that the ethnic vote could really play a crucial, you know, role? >> i think that prop 23, the one about repealing the climate change regulations in california, that one is not doing so well right now. it looks like it might go down to defeat. but the support for prop 23 is somewhat higher in some of these ethnic communities, again, where the rhetoric of jobs might carry more -- you know, more credibility or at the same time where communities feel these green jobs everybody's talking about, it's not really coming into our community at all. so in fact, among african-americans, chinese-americans, they are
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somewhat in support of prop 23, which would repeal the ab-32. so there would have to be a lot of work done there in order to make that race -- right now it still looks like prop 23 might be defeated. >> belva: well, it's interesting. this is a different look at polling when you start adding in and break down by -- >> yeah. when you do that, it might look like california's completely fractured and divided. but i'll tell you one thing everybody agrees on, is about our governor wanted to be the post-partisan governor who could unify everybody across all stripes. he succeeded in doing that. across the board, republican, democrat, young, old, latino, asian, everybody's giving him a thumbs down. he's got a 22% approval rating, which is the lowest -- i think he's tied with gray davis right now. >> belva: well, moving on to politics, a new turn and a new twist and a new word in looking at elections in terms of what one can do and can't do. >> that's right. our state federal -- or fair political practices commission
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is looking at possibly changing the way that we handle basically groups that may not be expressly advocating for or against a candidate. so in an ad right now if you say vote for jerry brown or meg whitman you have to tell not only who paid for that ad but make public the information about who paid you. and now the fppc is considering maybe expanding that to say if you run an ad and it really -- even if it doesn't say these so-called magic words, "vote for," you know, so and so is evil, that we want -- if a reasonable person would assume that you're trying to impact the election you should have to disclose who your donors are. this is something that has united democrat and republican lawyers across the board because they think that really the fppc would be overstepping its boundaries. there's a lot of precedent here, including a 2002 decision against former governor gray davis. in that case he had actually sued to force a group that had run ads against his energy
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policies right before his election. and he said look, this is clearly related to the election, even though you don't mention it, and the court said guess what, they never said the magic words, so we don't have to -- they don't have to tell you who paid for it. so next month this commission is going to consider this. i think we're going to hear a lot in the meantime from all these attorneys who have a lot of opinions about what the constitution says and what courts have decided in the past. >> so what are we seeing in this election cycle in terms of, you know, this kind of language, this kind of advertising? is it more or less? is it -- you know, how is it playing out? >> well, i think there's a few things at play here. one is that california politics are always -- sort of have national implications. so you're always going to see -- talk about prop 23, the climate change initiative, that's actually being bankrolled mostly up to this point by an out-of-state oil company. in that case they obviously have to disclose their donors because it's clearly a campaign. but i think we are going to see with all the unions that are lining up against meg whitman,
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with the various independent groups that are really coming and playing bigger roles now in elections, i mean, it's fair to say that this will be an issue and continue to be. nationally, this is becoming a bigger issue because of the supreme court decision this year that opened the floodgates for corporations and unions. now, in california we already allowed them to spend as much money as they wanted independently, but i think this is a debate that's happening in state houses and at the local level around the nation, really. >> how are democrats and republicans, you know, the ones who go to these hearings, how do they argue against -- that more transparency is not good for the system? >> they don't. they argue that it's not constitutional, that it's a first amendment issue. so really -- and that's something i heard from the current chair of this committee, who opened up this question and had this hearing. you know, he didn't really feel like that question was answered. what they're saying is that previous court decisions have prevented you from doing this, so it's not about the public
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good, it's about what the constitution says. >> belva: so who was present when this argument was being made? what was the makeup of the audience? >> well, mostly lawyers. and i think one advocate, a good government advocate who was speaking in favor of more disclosure. and apparently one woman who had driven ten hours because she was so angry about an anonymous mailer piece she got in the last election. but you know, all of us open up our mailboxes, get phone calls during elections. and i think that there are valid reasons for voters to want to know not only who is directly supporting a candidate or campaign but who is sort of peripherally supporting it. because that kind of tells you something about what that measure or person might do if they're elected. >> belva: so the more wealthy campaigners that we have, the less worry for them, but the more for people who are collecting from small pots? >> perhaps. i think, again, if you're involved in a direct campaign, you have to disclose this stuff
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anyway. but there's certainly questions about whether, you know, jerry brown is getting help from the outside because they feel like he needs it. >> belva: well, my thanks to all of you for joining me tonight with some very interesting stories. and now some other stories from the news this week. there was some positive news from the international conference on aids in vienna. a study in south africa has found that a new gel may protect women from the hiv virus and herpes. foster city company gilead science donated the drugs used in the landmark study. san jose mayor chuck reed says that he will ask the city council for a ballpark measure on the november ballot to allow the oakland a's to move to the south bay, even before the major league baseball special committee has weighed in on this announcement. it stunned the giants, who oppose the move because of their contract in santa clara county. governor arnold schwarzenegger has introduced appellate court judge tani
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kantisakawe as his nominee to fill retiring justice ronald george's seat on the supreme court. he must be confirmed by the commission on judicial appointments to qualify for the november ballot. this week the state water resources control board for farmers and environmental activists went over the timetable and methods for reducing toxic irrigation drainage going into the san joaquin river. this story from kqed's "quest" series looks at the restoration project and the challenges and hopes for bringing one of the nation's most altered and polluted rivers back to life. >> reporter: the san joaquin is california's second longest river. 330 miles. and it once boasted the second largest salmon runs in the state. >> there are historical accounts that residents near the town of friant would have a hard time sleeping at night because of the
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sound of the salmon moving upstream. >> reporter: by the early 1900s river water was being diverted for farming and hydropower, causing a dramatic decline in the number of salmon. still, the river flowed continuously from the sierras to the sacramento, san joaquin delta. the watershed bustled with commerce and recreation. but the river's era of abundance came to an abrupt end with the construction of friant dam, which was completed in 1942. the decision to build friant dam was a calculated choice by politicians and powerful land owners to trade fish for farms. miles of river were all but drained as water was rerouted to irrigate a million acres of arid land from merced to bakersfield. and within a few years the chinook salmon ceased to exist in the upper reaches of the san joaquin river. >> the thing that's most remarkable to me about them is that in spite of all the changes
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that have occurred and alteration to either habit and historical conditions that they still somehow persist. >> reporter: chinook are the largest of the salmon species. they travel thousands of miles, spending three to five years in the open ocean before making the difficult journey upstream to their river origins to spawn and die. but the dams on the san joaquin were built too high for the powerful fish to traverse. and chinook salmon have been barred from 90% of their ancestral spawning grounds for more than 50 years. today the dwindling population found in san francisco bay's delta hangs on the edge of extinction. but that could soon be changing. in 2004, after environmental organizations sued the federal bureau of reclamation, a federal judge ordered that water be returned to the river. two years later, the government and the environmental groups,
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along with the friant water users authority, representing thousands of farmers, agreed to a historic court settlement to restore the san joaquin river and reintroduce spring and fall run chinook salmon. rod mead was chosen to be the npd administrat independent administrator of the restoration project. >> this is the most ambitious and unique river restoration project that has been undertaken. other rivers have been restored and enhanced. in this case we have a river that quit flowing as a year-round river for about 30 miles. >> reporter: the river began its return in october 2009 as water flows from friant dam were gradually increased. already the river is wet from the dam to the delta. >> restoring water and restoring the habitat will help bring back our historic salmon runs. but there are a lot of other native fishes that will benefit
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from restoring the san joaquin. there will also be a lot of habitat that's created along the banks, and that's going to benefit a lot of migratory birds that fly up and down the central valley every year. >> reporter: since friant dam was built the east side of the central valley has been some of the most productive farmland in the united states. under the settlement farmers will be required to restore 15% to 17% of the water they've been taking. and many of them are nervous. >> all of us are going to be cut back severely. we just don't know how much yet. originally, we were all flood irrigation. we are now putting in microsprinklers, drip irrigation. >> reporter: while growers make changes to compensate for reduced allocations, increased water to the river is already transforming the landscape. 153 miles of river from friant dam to the confluence with the
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merced river near turlock are being restored. river habitat will be created. barriers will be removed. and new passageways built. threatened spring run chinook salmon are to be reintroduced by the end of 2012 and nurtured until they're self-sustaining in the wild. >> now, this is a riffle right here, right? >> this is a riffle. >> reporter: gerald hatler is a senior scientist with the california department of fish and game. as the flows increase, his team of researchers and engineers measures the water levels and tracks the speed of the current. they carefully monitor the temperature, which is key to salmon survival, making sure the san joaquin water is cold enough will be a considerable challenge, particularly for spring run salmon. >> now, hold over in cooler holding pools until the fall when they spawn. that means that they have to be in the system during the summer and river temperatures in the san joaquin system typically are
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not suitable for that. >> reporter: the stretch of river being restored for the salmon is divided into five reaches that present a range of obstacles, including the dam at mendota pool and the floodgates at sam flue, which are dead ends for fish. >> these gates will get rebuilt in a way that will make them both serve as the flood control purpose that they currently have but also so that they're fish-friendly, so that juvenile and adult salmon can move through these gates safely. >> reporter: it could be decades before we see if the restoration project achieves its goals, but one thing is certain. the san joaquin will become a living river again. and the success of this restoration could decide the fate of the chinook salmon species, whose fabled forebears were born in the cool riffles of the san joaquin a century ago. >> we're going to be restoring a living river to being back
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historic salmon runs and to do it in a way that reflects the modern world we live in, where water supply now has a lot of different demands for agriculture and for urban uses as well as for the environment. the san joaquin river restoration program is really a model for water resource issues in california. ♪ >> belva: well, that's all for tonight. we'll be back next week with a one-hour broadcast. finally, a program note. kqed news has launched with 16 newscasts each weekday on kqed public radio and online with local news plus the best of national and international news, all on one site. all the details are at, where you can also watch complete episodes and
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segments of our program, subscribe to our newsletter and podcast, and share your thoughts about the show. i'm belva davis. good night. ♪ >> major funding for "quest" on "this week in northern california" is provided by the national science foundation.
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